It’s Sunday, and it’s pouring with rain at eco-village Zuiderveld. Y., three years old, is bored inside. We play with the Lego, but his eyes keep wandering to the window. He immediately spots it when one of his friends appears in the garden. Yes, there is a break in the rain and we can go outside! The wadi, the large ditch in the middle of the garden, has filled up with water.
Our eco-village is located at the edge of a new residential area. It consists of three rows of houses, which are arranged in a U‑shape around the garden. There are terraced houses as well as apartments. We live here with about 60 adults and 30 children. Everything is social rent. There is a common room, the Gerlinde, with a kitchen and several meeting rooms. And there is a guest room that anyone can reserve for their guests.
The children continue to flock to the wadi. Within a few minutes about ten of them are playing in and around the water with sticks, pieces of wood and buckets. Every now and then someone slips down the slippery slope and ends up in the mud. We’re quite used to mud. When we started the eco-village a year ago, the garden was nothing but a mud field. By now, it is starting to look great, but there is also still a lot left to be done.
The same is true for the other aspects of our lives here. Building a community takes time. The restrictions on group meetings are delaying the process even more. Sometimes our community seems as frail as the spindly trees that the municipality has planted around us. The tasks that have to be done and the decisions that we have to make, can weigh us down. But we keep growing and face the winds that scourge the bare soil head on.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned at Zuiderveld is simply muddling along. To accept that you sometimes slip up and get mud on your clothes. It keeps me grounded, close to the earth. Instead of dreaming about an idyllic paradise, I discover harmony in the small things. Every chance encounter in the Gerlinde, every job that is done together, and every Sunday afternoon that ends with wet socks, is proof that the community is alive.